Welcome to Bedford County!

The Peaks of Otter

Bedford County's world-famous Peaks of Otter
(Sharp Top, left, and Flat Top) as viewed from the burgeoning hamlet of Forest and facing West.
The county seat, the City of Bedford, lies virtually at the foot of these spectacular mountains.
"They, indeed, are the very princes of freemen; breathing, as they do, the pure breezes of their own blue mountains, and daily learning lessons of liberty and independence from the wild bird that soars in unobstructed flight and proud defiance about the towering summit of the Peaks of Otter."
-- Henry Clay Pate, 1852*
on the residents of Bedford County

one of the fastest-growing counties in America

Home of the Bedford County Sheriff's Office

Fry/Jefferson Map of 1754Bedford County was formed on what was then the frontier from Albemarle and Lunenburg counties in 1754 and was named for John Russell, the Fourth Duke of Bedford (b. 30 Sep. 1710 -- d. 15 Jan. 1771), who served as Great Britain's Secretary of State.  (The Duke's influence lives on today in the Official Seal of Bedford County and in a frieze on the County Courthouse.)  Another noteworthy event that same year was the founding of the Society of St. Andrews Golfers at St. Andrews in Scotland.  (Read more about this map, surveyed and drawn by Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson and published in 1754.)  In the year Bedford County was born, George Washington was 22.  Thomas Jefferson was a mere 11 years old, running and playing in Albemarle County (which had just gotten noticeably smaller) some 90 miles to the North.  Little did the young Jefferson know then that he would build his private retreat, Poplar Forest, in Bedford County, (picture the President of the United States on his hands and knees, showing his foreman how to lay the brick for an octagonal foundation!) which would become one of his favorite spots on Earth.

Co. SealThe central town of Bedford Country was once known as Liberty, so named after the Colonial victory over Cornwallis at Yorktown.  In 1782, on 200 acres of donated land at the geographic center of the County and with a new log courthouse, the new town of Liberty superseded New London as Bedford County's seat of government.  Officially becoming a town in 1839, Liberty changed its name to Bedford City in 1890, reverted to town status in 1912 and, in 1968, again became the City of Bedford, which, in 1993, was recognized as "one of the 100 best small towns in America." 

Originally an agricultural economy, Bedford County's industrial development began in 1880, and since that time industrial growth has been consistent, fostered by the involvement of its citizens.  The county is home to a wealth of historic sites, structures, and scenic tourist attractions including Smith Mountain Lake (Virginia's largest lake) and the world-famous Peaks of Otter, which, in Mr. Jefferson's time, were thought to be the highest mountains in America. 
 

Company A
 
Bedford is also the site of the National D-Day Memorial, scheduled to open on D-Day (6 June) 2000.  In 1944, Bedford had a population of just 3,200 and was the home of Company A, 116th Infantry, 29th Division (pictured above).  Bedford sent more of her sons per capita to the WWII effort than any other community in America and lost 21 of them at Omaha Beach on D-Day alone. 

Bedford County is comprised of 764 square miles in the west-central portion of Virginia's central plateau.  The area has a rolling to hilly terrain with elevations from 800 feet to 4,200 feet above sea level.

Bedford / Virginia MapThe spectacular Blue Ridge Mountains and Parkway define the West. U.S. Hwy. 460 connects the City of Roanoke and I-81 on the West to the City of Lynchburg and U.S. 29 to the East. The mighty James River rolls along to the North, and Smith Mountain Lake sprawls to the South. Bedford County is heavily travelled and frequently visited. What makes Bedford County such a great place to live and work has also made it an attractive target for would-be criminals.  Bedford County has also witnessed remarkable population growth:  over 24% in the last seven years, making it one of the fastest-growing counties in America.  There have been "growing pains," which have been felt especially by all of Bedford County's public servants.  Together we are working not only to meet these demands, but to anticipate them and develop innovative ways to deal effectively with them.

The Bedford County Sheriff's Office has worked hard to make it clear to all that crime and illicit drugs will not be tolerated in our special part of America.

Since January 1, 1996, through dedication and innovation, education and interdiction, the Bedford County Sheriff's Office has improved efficiencies, redistributed allocations, enhanced communications and launched initiatives to tally dramatic increases in arrests for crimes virtually across the board.  As a result of input from alert citizens, dramatic increases have been seen in:

    • drug-related arrests, (a 400% increase since 1996)
    • Child abuse and exploitation arrests,
    • Traffic safety violations, (DUI, reckless driving and speeding in school zones, etc.)
    • "Deadbeat" parent arrests, (including recovery of more than $4 MILLION in child support for Bedford County's mothers.
    • Child pornographer / molester arrests, and more.
Late in 1998, the Bedford County Sheriff's Office was one of only 10 law enforcement agencies in America awarded a federal grant of $200,000 to continue its innovative high-tech war on child pornography distributed over the Internet as well as those who prowl the Internet looking for child victims, a campaign which has already netted international arrests, has earned the praise of the U.S Dept. of Justice, and has also garnered national and international media recognition for the Bedford County Sheriff's Office's initiative, which has taken on a national and international scope -- now known as Operation Blue Ridge Thunder:  America's Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

Since 1996, the Bedford County Sheriff's Office has made numerous significant, if unorthodox, improvements in ensuring public safety and cracking down on crime, and in getting the most law enforcement "bang for the buck." Some of these improvements include a switch from brown cruisers to white:  a break from tradition that has other sheriff's department statewide following. The white vehicles dramatically improve visibility and thereby safety and are less costly to paint, allowing Bedford County taxpayers money to be spent on more meaningful law enforcement expenditures. One of the most innovative was the addition of Z-28 Camaros funded largely by drug forfeiture money, to the BCSO fleet for the Special Drug Enforcement Patrol which, when coupled with the new K-9 Drug and Patrol Unit, makes for some formidable interdiction in illicit drugs.

The addition of a Maritime Lake Patrol Unit and a High-Tech Investigative Unit are other innovations already yielding impressive results that are getting the attention not only of citizens and the national media, but also would-be criminals. In July 1999, the BCSO became the 9th sheriff's office and the 18th law enforcement agency in the Commonwealth of Virginia to become fully accredited.  Sheriff Mike Brown's message is remarkably clear: "If you're going to break the law, don't do it in Bedford County, Virginia."


Bedford County


*The American Vade Mecum; or, The Companion of Youth, and Guide to College. Cincinnati: Morgan, 1852.
In the collection of the Library of the University of Virginia.
Accred Seal
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